À-la-mode – Prius’ driving modes match the moment

One of the features of new Prius we are keen to put to the test is its choice of three driving modes. Rather than a one-size-fits-all approach to the car’s transmission set-up, the driver can choose from three additional modes that tailor performance to suit the driving conditions, just by pressing the appropriate button by the gear shift lever.

Prius driving mode switches

As a full hybrid, Prius can run on its electric motor alone and does so automatically from start-up at and at speeds less than 44mph (70km/h), with driving range determined by the level of battery charge. Below this speed, the petrol engine only cuts in under hard acceleration or to boost system power.

New Prius also gives the driver the option of switching to EV mode manually, allowing the car to be driven at speeds up to 31mph (50km/h) and for a distance of up to two kilometres. With near-silent running, zero carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrous oxide (N2O) exhaust emissions and no petrol consumption, it ‘s ideal for around-town motoring.

ECO mode is designed to maximise fuel efficiency and reduces throttle response to heavy pressure on the accelerator. Using this mode, and keeping your driving within the optimum level shown on the Eco Drive Monitor read-out, can help reduce fuel consumption by 10-15%.

The third option is Power mode, which sharpens throttle response by up to 25%, improving acceleration for more spirited driving performance. As an example, under a 50% throttle, Power mode can knock 1.7 seconds off the acceleration time from 31 to 50mph (50 to 80km/h).

Simon got a quick taste of the different feel between EV and Power modes when he took our exclusive early test drive, but we’re looking forward to finding out how all three modes feel on the roads.

One comment

  1. Just bought a 2010 Prius and am learning to drive it. It’s a bit different from standard automobiles. I drive in Eco mode on a constant basis and use Power mode only for situations where I need to accelerate quickly. As soon as I get up to speed, I switch to Eco mode. You’re limited to maybe 40-43 mph in Eco-hybrid range where your mpg gauge reads at optimum. Beyond that speed range, you pass out of Eco-hybrid range and the mpg gauge drops which means you’re using more gas. What I do is accelerate at that point for maybe 10 seconds and then lift my foot off the gas and keep it in Eco-hybrid range as long as possible but your speed will drop and I want to keep going at the speed limit. Once I dip below the speed limit, I accelerate again out of Eco-hybrid range and start the process all over again. In this way, I use gas most efficiently without other drivers wanting to kill me for going too slow.

    I’ve used EV mode only once when I was in a knot of traffic due to construction. For about a quarter mile, traffic inched along, so I went into EV mode and let the electric motor push me along with no gas engine help at all. I turned off the radio and fan to use as little battery power as possible. It was utterly silent. When I passed the problem spot after about 5 minutes, I switched back into Eco mode. When I tried to go into EV mode another time, it deactivated itself with a warning sound. I guess the battery wasn’t sufficiently charged. EV mode WILL run down your battery so use it sparingly. I notice that when I go really slow in Eco mode, the gas engine doesn’t run anyway. The other day, I was pulling into a parking spot at work after lunch and someone standing there told me my car was utterly silent besides the sound of the tires on pavement. But I was in Eco mode.

    Anyway, I’m still on my first tank after two weeks and already have 420 miles on the car and still have three bars left on the fuel gauge. Never seen anything like this. I love this car! Plus you can’t beat the 6 CD-player and the satellite radio with EXCELLENT sound from the speakers. And all the computerized displays are so cool! Everybody at work are always asking me about the car. Lots of room inside. One coworker is quite tall and stoutly built and he fit in the backseat no problem.

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